The list below of archives which have recently been added to the Online Catalogue shows how the Library can satisfy the demands of a wide range of users seeking primary materials in order to further their research. The subject areas represented in the archives include archaeology, art and sculpture, literature, music, together with family and local history.
Collecting personal papers of individuals ‘who have played an important role in the life of the nation’ has always featured prominently in the Library’s Collection Development Policy. Such collections are not only essential for biographical purposes, but they also throw a wider light on the subject matter in question, and contain valuable information on other prominent individuals engaged in the same profession or sharing similar interests. Thus, not only do the papers of Jonah Jones (1919-2004) reflect his work as a sculptor, artist and writer, but the inclusion of letters to him from a wide circle of friends and colleagues, such as Melvyn Bragg, John Petts and Jan Morris, add to the research potential of the archive. Similarly, the papers of Sir Cyril Fox (1882-1967) not only include his working papers as an archaeologist, but also personal and professional correspondence, and papers accumulated by his son during the preparation of his father’s biography.
The completion of the cataloguing work on The Jeff Towns (Dylan Thomas) Collection is timely in that it coincides with the Dylan Thomas 100 Festival, (http://dylanthomas100.org/english/) the year-long celebration of the birth of one of Wales’ greatest literary talents. This archive was acquired by the Library from Jeff Towns, an antiquarian bookseller based in Swansea who, for many years, has actively collected books, photographs, manuscripts, and other materials compiled by, or relating to, Dylan Thomas. Included are scripts, correspondence, programmes and papers relating to the publication of Under Milk Wood, and radio, stage and film productions of the play, 1953-2005, together with letters by Dylan Thomas, and the letters and papers of his wife Caitlin, their three children and his parents, 1935-2007. Some of the items from this Collection can be seen in the Library’s multi-media exhibition (http://www.llgc.org.uk/visit/things-to-do/exhibitions0/dylan/), an unique opportunity (until 20 December 2014) to celebrate the life and work of this iconic Welsh literary figure.
Early drafts, including words, phrases, and a list of possible verse forms, written by Dylan Thomas whilst composing the unfinished poem ‘Elegy’ to his father in 1953.
The three remaining archives recently added to the Online Catalogue are the product of organizations or businesses, rather than individuals. Firstly, the Welsh Music Information Centre Manuscripts and Papers, containing a large number of music scores by numerous Welsh composers including Alun Hoddinott, J. R. Heath, Arwel Hughes and Ian Parrott; secondly, Roberts & Evans, Aberystwyth (Solicitors) Records, comprising both office and clients’ papers, and containing valuable information on numerous families and estates, mainly in Cardiganshire; and thirdly, the Wynnstay Estate Records, comprising the estate and family records, 1183-1946, of the influential Wynn and Williams Wynn family of Wynnstay, Denbighshire, who owned land throughout North Wales. Not only does this archive contain records relating to the day-to-day administration of the estate, such as title deeds, rentals and accounts, but also includes family and estate correspondence; antiquarian, legal and literary manuscripts; a group of early charters and deeds, 1183-1676, from the Cistercian Abbey of Strata Marcella near Welshpool, Montgomeryshire; account rolls of Sir Richard Wynn, Treasurer to Queen Henrietta Maria, 1627-1649; together with manorial and legal records, and parliamentary election papers. Few other estate archives at this Library contain such diverse records of interest to a wide range of users, and it is hoped that the mammoth task of arranging and listing such a large archive (182 boxes and 591 volumes) has helped to unlock its potential to present and future users.
‘Wynne Stay, seat of Sir Watkins Williams Wynne’ by John Ingleby, (1749-1808)
Sir Cyril Fox Papers
Jonah Jones Papers
Roberts & Evans, Aberystwyth (Solicitors) Records
Jeff Towns (Dylan Thomas) Collection
Welsh Music Information Centre (WMIC) Manuscripts and Papers
Wynnstay Estate Records
There was a great response to our #ArAgor research project when it was mentioned in my presentation at Digital Innovation Week Wales event in Cardiff on Monday. The project looks at how we demonstrate and measure the value and impact of sharing digital collections openly.
Some have asked for more details about what we are looking for. Here are some types of information that would be of interest:
- examples of ways in which digital collections (single items, sets or whole collections) have been used after being freed of restrictions (e.g. derivative products or works, applications or services based open collections);
- outputs of research into the open access business model and how it compares with more closed models;
- ways of demonstrating the value and impact of making digital collections open (e.g. measuring and – if possible – putting a value on brand exposure and reputation)
- tools or approaches to finding out how digital collections are being used once they have been made open (e.g. reverse image searching)
Please let us know if you have any information to share with us! You can comment on the blog posts, tweet using the #ArAgor hashtag, or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Library recently acquired a very fine copy of Thomas Pennant’s History of Whiteford and Holywell 1796. Of all his topographical works this is, to my mind, the most intimate and personal. He begins the volume talking of his mansion Downing as the place where he ‘first made entrance into this busy world’. What follows is a piece of delightfully understated family history and legend which leads us into the main theme of the text.
Pennant had the ability to portray his subject in vivid prose, so when combined with the polished watercolours of Moses Griffith any work would be a success. In this volume, purchased at Bonhams, New Bond Street on 19 June 2013 (lot 200) we have a revelation: it includes full page watercolours signed and dated by the artist almost every time as 1795. The watercolours were produced on single sheets then pasted into the volume, forming extra-illustrations to the text. This method of illustration, known as Grangerisation was very popular at the period and the Pennant volume represents a high point in that craft. Although curious to say there is one page (after p122) which bears a watercolour by Moses painted directly on the bound paper. Things are never straight-forward with Pennant.
Why am I so excited by this volume? Because it is clear evidence of the patronage of Moses by a contemporary of Pennant. We know that the artist undertook commissions for individuals but here we can study how that was constructed. I will leave the quest for that patron for someone else but say that Moses’s contribution to antiquarian works of the late 18th century in Wales was immense. Now we can study this volume beside the Downing copies, produced for Pennant himself and perhaps find some answers.
Dr Paul Joyner
What is the impact of sharing digital collections openly? What value is open access generating for the user, for wider society and the economy and for the organisation sharing its collections? How can the value and impact of open digital collections be measured?
These are some of the questions that we’ll be seeking to answer in a research project entitled #ArAgor launched as part of the National Library’s research programme.
If you are also interested in discovering answers to these questions, and if you have any experiences, information or evidence that may contribute to this project, please join us by including #ArAgor in your tweets and posts on this subject or contacting us on email@example.com.
The centenary commemoration programme to remember World War One has already began in Wales and further afield. During the next few years it has been anticipated that more and more people will have an interest in this area, therefore, we decided to place a series of books on the open shelves in the North Reading Room in order to help the researchers. The three Welsh Regiments will probably be of most interest to our readers – The Welsh Regiment, The Royal Welch Fusiliers and The South Wales Borderers. The series of books outlining the history of the regiments and their work during World War One, with additional works relating to other Welsh battalions are now on the shelves. I’m sure that there will be many more works produced on the subject over the next few years and we hope to add them to the series. If you have any suggestions for publications we should add please let us know.
Research Services Manager
We have responded to comments for a more streamlined service when using newspapers at the National Library of Wales by making it possible to access all formats of newspapers in one reading room.
You can now view original copies, microfilm copies and access our new resource, Welsh Newspapers Online, in one dedicated area in the South Reading Room. Staff are on hand to assist you in your search, and to help you to use our new interactive touch table to access Welsh Newspapers Online.
Call in to see us!
Carol Edwards, Head of Reader Services
After several attempts the Library succeeded recently in purchasing a very rare item that has been on our wants list for many years. It is a copy of The Fly-Fishers Legacy, containing accurate descriptions of all the principal natural flies … by George Scotcher. This volume was published in Chepstow and printed and sold by M. Willett. Although it is undated experts believe that 1810 or 1819 are possible publishing dates. It is bound in a later travel pocket style binding with front fold over flap and has hand-coloured engraved specimen frontis plates. This copy is copy is extra illustrated, possibly by the noted angling collector J.C. Lynn, and interleaved with 13 leaves containing 23 mounted fly specimens. The Fly Fisher’s Legacy is one of the rarest books in angling literature.
It is known that there are copies held at Harvard, Yale and Princeton. No doubt that there are a few other copies in private hands. It was the first angling book to contain a coloured plate illustrating some of the insects imitated by anglers. Also it was the first angling book devoted entirely to fly-fishing. Once this item has been accessioned it will be available to readers interested in this field of study to enjoy as well as to carry out further research. I am glad to say that another small but significant gap in the Library’s holdings has been filled.
Gwyn Tudur Davies
The pilgrimage is at an end, the covers are gently closed, and our popular exhibition on Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales has finished.
Are you one of those who missed the opportunity to see the show, or did you think of returning for another look, and left it too late? Fear not, for the Library’s exhibitions now have an extended life on the web.
A short film was created to coincide with the exhibition, and we can think of no better way to re-visit Canterbury than in the company of a curator, and from your own comfortable chair in the twenty-first century.
The National Library of Wales is pleased to announce that over 100,000 new pages have been added to Welsh Newspapers Online.
Welsh Newspapers Online is a free online resource from the National Library of Wales where you can discover millions of articles from the Library’s rich collection of historical newspapers.
Welsh Newspapers Online now lets you search and access over 725,000 pages from over 115 newspaper publications and will grow to over 1 million pages as more publications are added during 2014.
The recent update includes new publications such as Y Tyst, Welsh Gazette and Herald of Wales, not forgetting early editions of Seren Gomer (1814-1815). Seren Gomer was founded by Joseph Harris in 1814 and was the first Welsh language weekly to be published in Wales.
Welsh Newspapers Online is part-funded by the Strategic Capital Investment Fund and the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.
On Saturday 28th June 2014, we are so excited to present to our visitors the largest and most comprehensive Dylan Thomas expo as part of the centenary celebrations. Although it has been years in the planning, things are really starting to take shape as we work on the set build and installation over the next couple of weeks!
Visitors will be able to see a variety of original items from the National Collection including photographs, archives, manuscripts, film and art – some of which have never before been exhibited. The items will feature in these 4 exhibitions:
- Dylan: Occupying the prestigious Gregynog Gallery, this multimedia exhibition is a journey into Dylan’s world – a world of poetry, stories, plays and extensive musings – guided by Dylan’s words.
- Dylan Comes Home: A special exhibition of manuscripts and photographs on loan from The Poetry Collection of the University Libraries, University at Buffalo, New York.
- Weak or Strong? The Art of Dylan: Artwork by Dylan, of Dylan and inspired by Dylan.
- Ach y fi, Ach y fi: A Play for Vices: Visual artists Peter Finnemore and Russell Roberts interpret the dark and mischievous world of Dylan.
Our exhibition team have been working very hard on installing the exhibition which will include a few ‘surprise elements’ and innovative ways of bringing the Dylan Thomas collections to life. Had enough of Dylan Thomas already? Wait till you see what we have in store for you! Here are a few tasters to whet your appetite…